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A friends has her 16-year-old nephew in town through early September and is looking for some good structured activities for him during the day--either camps that are winding down, but still have space or, perhaps, after-school activities. Interests include music, cars, and golf. Thanks for any insights you can share. Valerie
My daughter just turn 11 this month. I have been looking for some group activities to do with her together, but haven't had much luck. In the past, I have seen or heard some libraries offer mother-daughter book club, hospitals offering puberty classes, but I have not found any around Berkeley/Oakland area. We are also interested in any singing or dance group. It can be an ongoing thing or a one time thing. Thanks for everyone's input in advance. Sherry
If you decide to start your own mother-daughter book club, I highly recommend the book, Deconstructing Penguins, written by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, a couple of writers who have successfully led a parent-child book club for years. It's really great for helping such a group learn how to look beyond plot and story and know how to talk about a book.
You could also look ''outside the box'' for opportunities. For example - volunteering at a regional or state park together. My daughter and I went through docent training at a state park together when she was 10, to become co-docents who gave tidepool tours. Organizations are often willing to work with a younger person if the parent will do the program or activity along with her.
Have fun! Jennifer
The other day, I was reminiscing about an outing I'd taken with the kids, and then I began to think about the many places we used to go when they were younger, this camping trip and that ski trip and that long hike down to the ocean, etc., and the fact that we really no longer do these sorts of day/weekend trips. Now, filled with great nostalgia, I've come to realize that the kids (now 16 and 14) have other things going on and other interests. I'm not planning things like I used to, but maybe I'm not planning things because they don't really seem to want to go. So I'm wondering, are there other parents out there whose kids have ''outgrown'' your family outings? And if so, what are you doing about it? Is this another lesson in letting go? A little forlorn here
Possible ideas: Have them bring a friend along to the park or beach or wherever. And be prepared to jump at last-minute opportunities: e.g., one of your kids wishes aloud to go someplace the family used to enjoy together. Breakfast/brunch out as a family can also work, and is another opportunity to sneak in some activity, especially if you are clever and go to a restaurant near a regional park or beach. Family vacations do become difficult; again, consider inviting a friend for a long weekend trip.
Last, one of the most introverted teenagers I know became very excited about the Obama campaign and asked his parents to take him to Nevada for a weekend rally, volunteer training, and neighborhood canvassing. He still talks about it, and according to his mother, he was in a great, loving mood all three days. So keep in mind what they're enthusiastic about, and see if you can build on it.
(It also helps to redefine and maybe downsize your idea of an outing. My girl, who had been laughed at by her friends for being so close to me when she was 12, pulled away as well, but around 16, she started saying that Berkeley was ''not safe,'' and asking me to walk with her to the drugstore or library at twilight. Now I think it was just an excuse to have my company; we used to have very good talks then, and would sometimes stop for a smoothie or coffee--kind of a mini-outing.)
Good luck! This age group can make you feel pretty forlorn and lonely now, but they'll want your company again when they get over themselves a bit. Melanie
My older teen who no longer lives at home was a real downer on family outings and I realized I stopped planning them for that reason. But now we do it again and it is a lot of fun. Recent things we have enjoyed--kayaking in Monterey Bay, hiking, King Tut, Cartier exhibit, Santa Cruz boardwalk. She would like to go camping but I don't have the energy to plan it! have fun!
Now my oldest daughter lives in Sacto. We go to have brunch with her and end up in a new part of town she wants to show us, or shopping! Your kids will have a nostalgic feeling for the places they went as little kids, and they will want to show their friends. You can be a part of that. Jenny
We've recently returned to the Bay Area after an extended absence - our kids are now teens and have yet to either reconnect with old friends or develop networks of new friendships - therefore, they are looking to us parents to help them spend a good deal of their free time. This is fine with us and we love spending time with them, but I need to develop new activities that don't cost us $25- 50+ every time we leave the house. Movies, the mall, restaurants, bowling, baseball games, it all just adds up and I feel the dollars draining from my wallet on a constant basis. And, being teens, they are not all that into walks/bike rides/frisbee tossing. I would therefore really appreciate new ideas of how to spend quality time without spending the big bucks. My daughter loves drama and music, my son loves history; both kids enjoy museums, theater,and travel. They both enjoy the outdoors on a limited basis, but are not into, say, hanging out at the beach. I'm hoping to get them into biking, but that hasn't happened yet. Thanks so much for your ideas and suggestions. On a budget
Goldstar online is a great source for lower cost theater tickets. You & your daughter might enjoy ushering at various theater venues. Then you would get to see shows for free. Depending on her own taste & skills, she might also want to try out for various shows-- Alameda Civic Light Opera, Contra Costa Civic Theater, Pinole Valley Players are East Bay, and there are many other theaters in the Tri-Valley area. Go to websites to get notice of tryouts. Note: Several other local youth musical theater opportunities charge the participants!
Check the SF Folk Music Club website (or folknik newsletter), or BASCD website, for weekly and low-cost events involving music or dance. Monday nights there's Irish group dancing taught at the Starry Plough on Shattuck in South Berkeley, which I think is free. They also serve food, and you can play darts or just listen to the music.
Things that cost money: If I want some time with my teens, I invite them out for ice cream or lunch, like at Fenton's on Piedmont Avenue or Rolling Rock on Shattuck, or a bakery on Solano. The Freight & Salvage coffeeshop(now in downtown Berkeley) charges half price for people under 18, so less than $10 each. Also, check the City of Berkeley recreation webpage. For instance, they have the inexpensive West Campus pool just off University near Bonar. I was charmed to see you can rent kayaks for $15 an hour at Jack London Square. You can also rent wind-surfing equipment at the Berkeley Marina, I hear. another parent
My mom would like to take my 12-yr-old twin daughters on a trip. She's in her early 70s, active and healthy. This would probably be next summer, so we are just starting to plan. Has anyone had any experience with something like this? Does anyone have any ideas or leads on cruises, resorts, tours or other programs that would work? I'd also love to hear any advice on what worked well and what didn't. Thanks! Iris
My 13 year old nephew is going to be visiting next week, and I want to plan a lot of fun activities for him. I'd like to find some kind of performance or theater/interactive show to take him to, but I haven't found anything. I'm new to the area and could use some help. Any suggestions? Thanks. lynn
Looking to plan ahead for a potential summer abroad (2009) with RN mom and 16 year old couch potato/video game loving son. Mom is super adventurous, son would rather stay in the house. Best possible scenario: no tv, lots of kids/animals, TOTAL cultural immersion. Best if mom can work as an RN (highly unlikely), volunteerism a possiblily too. We welcome all ideas/input/advice. Help me show my kid that there is more to life than Wii! susan
Another option might be a walking tour in Europe. If you are of European origin you might select the country of your family's origin, but really good walking countries are Ireland, England, France, and Germany. This is because they are densely populated, and you can walk between villages at a leisurely place, with only six to ten miles between them in many areas, sometimes less. Carrying backpacks and walking on small byways you will see a lot of small details and be able to stop when something interests you. You and your son could sit down and map out a couple of areas that interest you.
Just a couple of notions... good luck with getting him off the Wii! fellow traveling mom
One thing - when I ask my sons ''what would you like to do?'' they can not think of anything. But if I ask them more specific questions like ''would you like to visit the Tower in London?'' or ''Do you want to stay at this hostel in Amsterdam?'' then we start making progress. Have fun! Loves to travel
Last year for my daughter's 11th birthday we held an overnight, with the
main attraction being a trip to the 10 pm Laserium show in SF (the
particular one was LaserRage, but I don't think they show that any more).
We provided the usual cake, ice cream etc (and had a contest to see who
could eat their cake most neatly with NO HANDS), as well as breakfast for
the kids. We asked the parents to pay for the show itself ($5 each for the
kids; $7 for any adults who wanted to go). The kids agreed that this was
one of the best birthday parties they'd ever been to.
I just recently had my 11 year old son's birthday at QSAR Lazer tag in Vacaville. There is one in Concord but it was under remodel. There is also one in Pleasanton. It was a great party for active boys of that age.
Planet Lazer, 24089 Watkins St, Hayward, 888-1738 Don't know anything about the place, but they donated tickets for a school auction!
Popular birthday sites for young teens I know (the only young teens I know are boys, but girls might like these too)
1. LazerX (in downtown Berkeley off Shattuck - just reopened) Have you been to one of these laser gun things? They are really fun, even for moms. Gets your adrenalin going.
2. Grand Slam USA - baseball batting range 5892 Christie Av, Emeryville
3. Raging Waters in San Jose: I like the parties that my child is invited to, not the ones I host!
4. The Underground (video arcade on campus under ASUC building) A couple years ago we had a successful b'day party for 6 boys - we walked to campus, gave them each a handful of tokens, and went to LaVal's after for pizza. They had a great time. (Kids seem to like LaVal's better than adults do.) I think now you'll need to show campus ID to get in - not sure what the policy is for kids.
!!! Shopping and expensive hamburgers !!!
Take the BART to SF and get off at Powell Street. It costs about $5 to go roundtrip from Berkeley to SF on BART nowadays. The Powell Street station has an entrance directly into this vertical mall that contains Nordstrom's, a couple of sports shops and lots of other places to spend money. The top floor of Nordstrom's seems to be devoted entirely to Jr high and high school aged kids' stuff and they often have good sales. But the cool thing about this mall is the circular escalator that goes up about 6 stories, so even if you aren't buying, it's fun to ride up and down the escalator.
Next, walk about 2 blocks and you're at Union Square, which has Macy's and Niketown: ridiculous overkill on the current Nike craze but boys seem to really dig it and - hey Mom - it has some interesting architectural features. Closer to Market St there is also the HUGE Virgin records store - fun for parents too, with listening stations & a huge selection of disks and videos. Nearby is a giant Ross store; this is where we do most of our buying - compare Nike socks from Ross to the ones at NikeTown!
On Stockton up from Virgin there is FAO Schwartz, the biggest toy store ever. Kids of all ages like FAO Schwartz, even jaded 14.5 year old boys. When we were there last week, they had a display of Men in Black toys and propaganda which was thought to be cool, and even the Legos and toy race cars still are interesting. Of course you can't beat it for Star Wars paraphenalia, and the stuffed animal and Barbie selections are supurb.
Just a few doors down from FAO Schwartz is the capper to the day's entertainment: expensive hamburgers at Planet Hollywood. This is a place I would never step foot into unless I wanted to impress teenagers. And boy are they impressed. Let them bring a friend, too, if you want a REALLY good reputation. It's a glitzy touristy place owned by a bunch of movie stars like Stallone, Bruce Willis, I think Arnold, and a few others. It's packed with movie memorabilia like costumes from the Terminator movies and so forth, and there are giant TV screens everywhere playing movie clips as well as ads for the Planet Hollywood chain. Rock music blares from loud speakers. The decor is high Hollywood moderne with fake animal prints, purple, gold bricabrac, etc. Burgers are about $10. There are fancy kids' drinks and also unlimited refills on giant sodas. My kids can't get over this - they think they are really getting a deal. They also can't get over the fancy bathrooms, with colognes arrayed next to the sinks and an attendant who hands you a towel after you wash your hands. Adults should probably stay away from the fancier dishes on the menu like "Blackened Prawns with Mango Salsa" but the burgers aren't bad and the barfood (pizza, buffalo wings) is OK. This is a good time to explain about paying for atmosphere as opposed to paying for food. Have fun!
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